Game 69: Tanaka for the Sweep

No bat today, Masahiro. (Rob Foldy/Getty)
No bat today, Masahiro. (Rob Foldy/Getty)

This homestand is going really well so far. The Yankees have own all four games by the combined scored of 32-10. They’ve allowed three runs or fewer in five of their last seven games, which is sorta flying under the radar. In one of the other games they allowed just four runs. They’re pitching well and hitting well right. Times are good.

Masahiro Tanaka is on the mound with an extra day of rest this afternoon and he has been simply outstanding of late. Four runs in 21 innings since coming off the DL and five runs in his last 34.1 innings overall. Thirty-five strikeouts and two walks too. No better guy to have on the mound when you’re looking for a sweep. Here is the Tigers’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. SS Didi Gregorius
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Garrett Jones
  7. LF Chris Young
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. 3B Brendan Ryan
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

It’s a lovely afternoon in New York. Great day for baseball. Today’s game will begin a little after 1pm ET and will air on YES locally and MLB Network regionally. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Mason Williams (shoulder) has been placed on the 15-day DL. An MRI showed no structural damage, just inflammation. Joe Girardi said they don’t want to rush him … Sergio Santos (elbow) needs Tommy John surgery. Womp womp. Thanks for getting out of that bases loaded jam the other day, Serg.

Roster Moves: Bryan Mitchell was send down to Triple-A Scranton and both Danny Burawa and Ramon Flores were called up, the Yankees announced. Whenever he gets into a game, Burawa will be the seventh Yankee to make his MLB debut. It’s not even July yet!

Brett the Maintainer

Excuse me for starting out on a philosophical note, but one slightly ironic certainty in life is that we have no idea why some things happen. That’s even truer in baseball, and a clear example of that is Brett Gardner. His success as an outfielder for the Yankees is one of the more pleasant surprises I’ve experienced in the last decade or so as fan. When he first came up, I liked his batting eye and I liked his defense, as did everyone else. However, I thought that his lack of power at the beginning would come back to bite him eventually; pitchers would challenge him in the zone, thus negating his good eye and patience, exploiting his lack of power. I’m glad I was wrong.

Taking the more micro view of things, I thought there would be a difference in performance from Gardner after Jacoby Ellsbury went down with an injury, but there really hasn’t been. Ellsbury last appeared in a game for the Yankees on May 19; at that time, Gardner was hitting .291/.366/.433, mostly out of the second spot of the lineup. Since then, through Friday’s game against the Tigers, Gardner has hit .259/.331/.454. There’s been a drop off in average and OBP, but nothing too significant, and that drop is balanced out by a boost in power.

Again borrowing from cliche philosophy, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Gardner moved up a spot in the order to the leadoff spot, a role he’s more than suited for; after all, he and Taco Bellsbury are fairly similar hitters. Going into writing this piece, I was expecting to find some differences in the way pitchers approached Gardner thanks to the new lineup spot, specifically the fact that there’d be no one on in front of him for his first time up which would be a change from the Ellsbury/Gardner configuration. During the opening stretch of the season before Gardner got hurt, Ellsbury was on base quite a bit–his OBP before going down was .412. In turn, Gardner came up to the plate with men on base in 55 of 127 at bats, 43%. Moving to the leadoff position lowered that to 33.33%, which is expected; you’ll always be starting with no men on in your first trip to the plate. Given that difference, though, and the move to the higher lineup spot, pitchers haven’t treated Gardner much differently than they did when he was a two hitter.

He has seen more ‘hard’ stuff since moving up in the order than he did to start the year, but the differences in results aren’t all that drastic, except for the increase in power on breaking pitches, moving from an ISO of .057 to an ISO of .333. His increased power against both hard and offspeed stuff as well just mirrors the overall increase in power noted earlier.

While the Yankees have struggled  in Ellsbury’s absence, Gardner’s been a more consistent presence than realized. The team’s been up and down all year, but he’s been steady, which is exactly what a team needs at the top of the lineup.

Yankees honor Willie Randolph and Mel Stottlemyre with plaques and a 14-3 win over the Tigers

The day started with a wonderful celebration of Willie Randolph’s career and the usual Old Timers’ Day fun, not to mention a surprise Monument Park plaque for Mel Stottlemyre, and it ended with a blowout 14-3 win over the Tigers. Pretty awesome day all around. The Yankees have won four straight and are now 20-11 with a +46 run differential at Yankee Stadium in 2015. Home sweet home.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
.274/.314/.432 over the last month. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Simon Says: Score Runs
Games like this are the toughest to recap because I don’t even know where to start. We all know what happened. The Yankees scored a ton of runs and they did it in every way possible. With singles, with homers, with sac flies … even with a hit-by-pitch. Six different Yankees drove in a run and eight different Yankees scored a run. The end result: 14 runs on a season-high 18 hits. They also drew six walks and struck out just five times. Pretty great game. Here are some points I want to highlight:

(1) Brett Gardner hit for the cycle. Well, sorta. He hit for the cycle in four at-bats spanning Friday to Saturday. Gardner homered in his last at-bat Friday, then on Saturday he tripled in his first-bat, doubled in his second at-bat, and singled in his third at-bat. That’s a cycle in four at-bats across two games. Doesn’t count in the record books but it’s still pretty cool. Gardner went 3-for-6 in the game overall. He is 10-for-20 on the homestand. Scorching hot.

(2) Carlos Beltran hit two home runs and they couldn’t have been any more different. The first was a moonshot he pulled over the home bullpen and into the right field bleachers as a left-handed batter. The second was an opposite field Yankee Stadium cheapie he reached out and poked to right field as a right-handed batter. It was the 12th time Beltran homered from both sides of the plate in one game in his career. That’s one shy of the all-time record held by … wait for itMark Teixeira and Nick Swisher. How about that?

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

(3) The biggest at-bat of the game was Alex Rodriguez‘s three-run home run in the third inning, I think. At least that was the biggest at-bat in hindsight. The Yankees worked Alfredo Simon really hard — he threw 85 pitches to get eight outs — and they had five runs on the board already, but A-Rod‘s monster homer off Ian Krol turned this one into a true laugher. Five runs is a nice lead. Eight runs? That feels like game over. And it was a bomb too. A-Rod crushed the ball deep into the left field seats. Zero doubter. He drove in five runs in the game.

(4) The two-run fourth inning rally was the stupidest rally ever. Not one, but two check swing bloops fell in for base hits. Didi Gregorius, who homered earlier in the game, tried to check his swing, made contact, and the ball fell in. Chris Young did almost the exact same thing two batters later. In between, Stephen Drew hit a weak grounder to short and Gregorius managed to beat the flip to second. It was scored a hit for whatever reason. (Fielder’s choice, no?) It was that kind of night. Everything went right, even the check swings.

(5) The top and bottom of the order did a lot of damage. The top three hitters went a combined 7-for-13 (.538) while the bottom three hitters went 6-for-14 (.429). The middle of the lineup did well too (3-for-10) but the top and bottom really stood out. The Yankees scored in each of the first five innings and went 4-for-13 (.308) with runners in scoring position. (I thought the RISP numbers would be better than that.) Utility infielder Josh Wilson pitched the eighth inning for Detroit — Young took him deep — and he forgot to cover first base on a ground ball, giving Brendan Ryan an infield single. The Yankees could do no wrong offensively.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Nasty Nate
Obviously the offense is the story of the game, but it shouldn’t be overlooked that Nathan Eovaldi rebounded from his disaster start earlier this week to hold the Tigers to two runs in six innings, and he wasn’t even on the mound for the two runs. (Bryan Mitchell allowed a pair of inherited runners to score.) Eovaldi struck out four and held Detroit to two base-runners in the first five innings. They didn’t have a runner reach second base until Rajai Davis’ leadoff double in the seventh. I’m sure all the offense made life easy. Still nice to see Eovaldi rebound so well.

Mitchell made his season debut and wasn’t great, though it doesn’t really matter. In addition to the two inherited runners he allowed to score, Mitchell surrendered one run of his own on four hits in three innings. He gets a save for throwing the final three innings in the blowout. This was the definition of mop-up duty for Mitchell. Throw strikes and get the game over with. It was nice to see the regular late-inning relievers get a second straight day off. The Yankees needed a laugher like this for more reason than one.

Kinda covered everything already, right? Here are all the Old Timers’ Day videos if you missed any of it. Also make sure you check out the Mel Stottlemyre plaque surprise if you haven’t. What a tremendous moment.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights, and here are the updated standings. The AL East is so tight, geez. Also check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Now here’s the win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Tigers will wrap up this three-game series on Sunday afternoon. Masahiro Tanaka and Anibal Sanchez will be on the bump. RAB Tickets can get you in the door if you want to catch that game or any of the other upcoming home games live and in person.

DotF: Judge and Flores continue hot streaks with homers

Triple-A Scranton (7-5 win over Lehigh Valley)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-5
  • RF Jose Pirela: 1-5, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-4, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 SB — six walks and five strikeouts in his last 16 games
  • LF Ramon Flores: 2-3, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 SB — threw a runner out at second … second homer in his last five games
  • C Austin Romine: 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 BB
  • RHP Jaron Long: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 5/2 GB/FB — 56 of 87 pitches were strikes (65%)
  • LHP James Pazos: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 2/4 GB/FB — 20 of 33 pitches were strikes (67%)
  • RHP Danny Burawa: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 0/1 GB/FB — ten pitches, seven strikes
  • RHP Jose Ramirez: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 12 of 21 pitches were strikes (57%)

[Read more…]

Video: Yankees surprise Mel Stottlemyre with plaque in Monument Park

Hands down, the best moment of Old Timers’ Day this afternoon was the Yankees surprising Mel Stottlemyre with a plaque in Monument Park. Stottlemyre played with the Yankees from 1964-74 and served as the team’s pitching coach from 1996-2005.

Over the last few years Stottlemyre has been battling multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer, and the treatment has really taken its toll. Getting to Old Timers’ Day from his home in Washington was not a given. But Stottlemyre made it and the Yankees surprised him with a plaque. Check it out. This is truly fantastic.

Great job, Yankees. Keep fighting Mel.

Game 68: Old Timers’ Day

Willie's Day. (Presswire)
Willie’s Day. (Presswire)

Today is one of my favorite days of the season: Old Timers’ Day. It’s not just Old Timers’ Day either — the Yankees will also honor Willie Randolph with a plaque in Monument Park today, something that is long overdue. He’s arguably the best second baseman in franchise history, after all. One of the three best at the very least.

The full roster of Old Timers can be found right here. No Derek Jeter, no Jorge Posada, no Andy Pettitte, and no Mariano Rivera. Lame. No Hideki Matsui or Mike Mussina either. Even lamer. Still plenty of all-time greats though. I’m looking forward to seeing Bernie Williams, Wade Boggs, Charlie Hayes, and Johnny Damon the most for some reason. I mean, I want to see all of ’em, but those four in particular.

Here are the Old Timers’ Game lineups, via the Yankees on Twitter:

Old Timers' Day Lineups

Now, the bad news: the weather kinda stinks today. It was raining this morning into the early afternoon, though things cleared up not too long ago and the forecast says it will stay clear for Old Timers festivities. Then it’s supposed to start raining again later tonight. The baseball gods will clear things up and make sure they get the ceremonies in. I’m sure of it.

The Old Timers’ Day stuff starts at 4pm ET and will be shown on YES. No, it is not streamed online anywhere as far as I know. At least not legally. Tonight’s game against the Tigers will follow at 7pm ET and will also be shown on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. The lineups haven’t been announced yet. That’ll happen closer to game time. For now, enjoy the Old Timers’ Day fun.

Update (3:39pm): The lineups for tonight’s game are out already. Here is the Tigers’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Carlos Beltran
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. LF Chris Young
    RHP Nathan Eovaldi

Enjoy the day, folks.

Injury Update: Mason Williams (shoulder) went for an MRI today, Joe Girardi told reporters. They don’t have the results yet. Williams jammed his shoulder diving back into first base on a pickoff throw last night.

Saturday Links: Miller, Bailey, Hall of Fame, Security

(Patrick Smith/Getty)
(Patrick Smith/Getty)

The Yankees and Tigers continue their series later today, after the 69th annual Old Timers’ Day. All the fun starts at 4pm ET. Here are some stray links to keep you busy until then.

Miller Still Shut Down

Ten days ago the Yankees placed Andrew Miller on the 15-day DL with a forearm muscle strain, and, as of Thursday, the left-hander still has not resumed throwing according to Dan Martin. “I’m still resting,” said Miller. The Yankees said Miller would be shut down 10-14 days after being placed on the DL and he’s still within the window, obviously. Miller’s not behind schedule or anything. He’s right on schedule, I guess. Hopefully he can resume throwing sometime in the next few days and get back to the team before the All-Star break. The bullpen without Miller has a totally different dynamic.

Bailey returns to the mound

Remember Andrew Bailey? The magic of Spring Training had us all thinking Bailey could actually help the Yankees this season, but instead he suffered a setback a few weeks into the season as he worked his way back from shoulder capsule surgery. Bailey was shut down in April with a shoulder strain and was scheduled to start a throwing program in May, though I guess that was delayed.

Earlier this week, Brian Cashman told Brendan Kuty that Bailey has indeed returned to the mound, throwing an inning in an Extended Spring Training game on Wednesday. I’m not sure what the plan is now — ExST is over (or will be very soon) now that the short season leagues are starting — but it sounds like Bailey is on the mend. The Yankees are going to want to see him pitch in minor league games, including back-to-back days before bringing him up. If Bailey can help at some point, great, the Yankees can use another reliever, but obviously the odds are quite long right now.

A-Rod‘s bat going to the Hall of Fame

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

There’s no word on what will happen with his 3,000th hit bat, but Alex Rodriguez has already donated his 2,000th RBI bat to the Hall of Fame, writes Ryan Hatch. “We extend our gratitude to Alex for donating the bat he used to record his 2,000th RBI to the Museum,” said Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson. The bat will be displayed as part of the “Today’s Game” exhibit at the museum. A-Rod has some other stuff in the Hall of Fame, including the helmet from his 500th homer and his spikes from Game Six of the 2009 World Series.

Alex became the second player in history with 2,000 RBI officially, joining Hank Aaron (2,297). It’s a weird situation though. RBI did not become an official stat until 1920, and MLB ignores everything that happened before then. Baseball Reference has retroactively calculated RBI totals and both Babe Ruth (2,214) and Cap Anson (2,075) have 2,000+ RBI, but MLB does not recognized their pre-1920 totals. It’s like they don’t exist. It’s so silly. Either way, A-Rod is in the 2,000 RBI club. Whether he’s the second member or the fourth member is immaterial. It’s an extremely exclusive club.

Yankees beef up security after Astros hack

Earlier this week word got out the FBI and Justice Department are investigating the Cardinals for hacking into the Astros’ proprietary database, which is a crime. Like an actual crime with legal implications. Last June some trade information was leaked from Houston’s system, at which point the Yankees beefed up their security system. Here’s what Brian Cashman told Christian De Nicola:

“We certainly added some more measures, spent more money to protect what’s privileged,” Cashman said. “It’s more inconvenient now for us to access our stuff, but we did it — again — to look for where those vulnerabilities were and made some adjustments and spent some more money to upgrade the process.”

“There were some extra steps. Were they necessary? We’ll never know, but we’re more secure by doing so. We felt secure before, but we made it more difficult now. It’s a little more inconvenience when we’re accessing our system ourselves, but we spent some more money to add some further measures, regardless. There were grumblings by employees at the front end of it, because to access our system it’s more difficult now for all of us to do so, but we’re better protected by the way we went about it.”

Every team has their own internal information system these days and, of course, all their scouting reports and statistical data are different. They all use stats differently and they all have different scouting reports, so the need to protect that information is obvious. I’m guessing the Yankees were not the only team to improve their security after the Astros’ leaks last year. Twenty-nine other clubs probably improved their security as well.